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21.08.2003 | General newsEU regulates emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases
Further step towards fulfilling the Kyoto obligation
The European Commission has adopted a proposal for a regulation to reduce emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases. The proposal represents a further step towards fulfilling the EU's obligations under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce emissions of all gases contributing to global warming. Fluorinated gases are extremely powerful and long-lived greenhouse gases. Their emissions are forecast to increase rapidly in the coming years if no action is taken. The Commission's proposal is expected to reduce by almost a quarter the projected emissions of these gases by 2010.
«This new proposal demonstrates our strong commitment to implement the Kyoto Protocol in the EU, by putting in place cost-effective measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions«, said Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström.
The fluorinated greenhouse gases covered are hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride. Their main sources of emissions are refrigeration and air conditioning, including mobile air-conditioning in cars, and industry. They are also used as foam blowing agents, aerosol propellants, fire-fighting agents, process gases in semiconductor manufacture and electrical insulators. HFCs and PFCs are needed in some applications to replace the ozone depleting substances being phased-out under Regulation (EC) 2037/2000 and the Montreal Protocol. As a result, their emissions have been increasing over recent years.
In 1995, emissions of fluorinated gases were 65 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, and assuming no additional measures were taken to reduce emissions, the Commission projects that emissions would increase by around 50% by 2010 to 98 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. Currently, fluorinated gases account for 2% of total EU greenhouse gas emissions. However, their global warming potential is high and many of them have long atmospheric lifetimes. For example, sulphur hexafluoride has a global warming potential that is 23,900 times that of carbon dioxide (CO2).
Source: European Environmental Press, August 21, 2003